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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

374

THE PORPOISE

make a breathing hole. A third suggestion is due to Seoresby,
who was led to make it from having taken out of the stomach of
a jSfarwhal a large skate. He held that with its tusk the Whale
empaled the fish and then swallowed it. The Narwhal is not
large, 15 feet or so in length. But Lacepede, who was apt to
compile with lack of discrimination, speaks of 60 feet long
Narwhals. Monodon is purely Arctic, and but three or four
specimens have ever been cast up on our shores.
Of true Porpoises, genus Phocaena, there are apparently
several species. The genus itself has the following characters:—
The teeth are sixteen to twenty-six on each half of each jaw ;.
their crowns are compressed and lobed. The pterygoids do not
meet. The dorsal fin has a row of tubercles along its margin.
The Porpoise of our coasts., JP. communis, is a smallish, species
6 to 8 feet in length. There are two to four hairs present in
the young; its colour is black, generally lighter on the belly.
The first six cervical vertebrae are fused. The ribs vary in
number from twelve to fourteen pairs. It is a gregarious "Whale,
and will ascend rivers; it has been seen for example in the
Seine at Paris. The name Porpoise is often written Porkpisce,
which of course shows its origin. "Very conveniently it was
regarded as a fish, and therefore allowed to -be eaten in Lent.
The celebrated Dr. Caius, a gourmet as well as a physician and
the refounder of a college, invented a particular sauce wherewith
to dress this royal dish. Some time since Dr. Gray described a
Porpoise from Margate as a distinct species (see p. 342) on account
of the tubercles, which are now known to be a generic character.
Dr. Burmeister's P. spinipennis seems, however, to be really
distinct. It was captured near the mouth of the Rio de la Plata.
Ifc is more tuberculated on the fin and back, and has fewer teeth
(sixteen as against twenty-six).
Mr, True's P. dodlii of the Pacific (where the Common
Porpoise also occurs) is characterised chiefly by its very long
vertebral column, consisting of ninety-eight vertebrae; there
are only sixty-eight in the other species. The Eastern genus
Jtfeomeris is placed with fhocaena by Dr. Blanford. It practi-
cally only differs by the absence of a dorsal fin. It is only
about 4 feet long, and inhabits the seas of India, Cape of Good
Hope, and, Japan. The one species is called JV. pfoocaenoides*
The mentis Globiceghcdus is to be defined thus:—Teeth